Wang Handong, age 43, is now a lay preacher at a church in Wuhan city, Hubei province. Some 14 years ago, he was a stubborn atheist who refused to set eyes on the Bible.
This is his story:
“I used to hate my earthly father. He was a government official and he ruled his household with an iron rod. To break free from the ‘tyranny’ at home, I enlisted in the army, mainly to escape from a dysfunctional childhood and its painful memories.
First Contact With the Bible
I remembered distinctly when I was 10 years old my mother brought home a Bible. My father took a look at it and condemned the Bible as “superstitious belief”. He forbade his sons and wife to read the Bible. I did not need any discouragement from him then. One glance at the Book and I pronounced it as “something that can never be beneficial to me.”
My mother had no chance to say otherwise; she passed away shortly after that time.
In 1998, I started working as a young executive. I maintained no links with my father or my only sibling, a younger brother. My strained family relationship and a recent breakup with my then-girlfriend plunged me into depression. My friend observed my continued low spirits urged me to accompany him to a Christian meeting at a nearby Bible seminary – the Zhong Nan (or Central South) Theological Seminary. I guess I went because I was desperately looking for happiness….
There the seminary students shared the gospel with me and gave me a “gift” they say – it was a Bible. I thought to myself, “What sort of a gift is this? It cannot be exchanged for money or pleasure. What use is it to me?”
That week, the students called me 2 or 3 times, enquiring about my health and if I have tried reading the Bible. They invited me once again to their seminary to meet with them the next week. I tried to decline the invitation, but found myself going the next week. They shared the gospel with me a second time. I still did not want to believe or read the Bible, yet they continued to telephone me that week and invited me over the third week. I went the third time but I still rejected the gospel and refused salvation.
The same cycle of events repeated itself. I went to the seminary’s meeting week after week for more than half a year.
The Book They Call “God’s Word”
Four months later, after persistent calls and encouragement from the seminary students, I relented and decided that I must really start to read the book everyone calls it ‘God’s Word’.
At first I did not understand the first five books, but when I came to the book of Psalms and Proverbs, my spiritual eyes began to open. I became more and more interested in this Bible. God’s Word began speaking to me through the Holy Spirit which gave me understanding.
“I’m Already So Poor; Jesus is All I’ve Got”
At the same time, I was attending church every Sunday. The friend who first urged me to attend the Christian meeting at the seminary told me to leave the church, saying “Christians are a bunch of hypocrites. Do not get yourself too involved with the Church or Christians. Beware of disillusionment!”
My friend at that time must be going through some discouragement. I was surprised even by my own reply to him, “I’m already so poor, I have nothing left. Jesus is all I’ve got.”
That week I heard a touching hymn sung at my church: “Draw me closer, Lord.” I did not know what ‘possessed’ me. I ran up to the pulpit, knelt down before the cross and cried my heart out. At that point, I prayed the sinner’s prayer and invited Jesus into my life.
When I testified to the same friend later, he replied with a wry smile, “The Holy Spirit is with you. Looks like you won’t be leaving the church now.”
Giving Bible as Gifts
Subsequently whenever I read the Word of God, I received so much blessing. John 14:26 says, ‘But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you’ (ESV).
I was given a Bible before I made a faith commitment, now I have the habit of giving away Bibles to others who have yet to know Christ. Two of which were given to my father and brother. Whenever I recall my father’s past treatment and the difficult times I went through, I remembered these words in Genesis: ‘As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today.’(Genesis 50:20 ESV)
Wang’s father and brother read the Bible and have now accepted Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. There are millions in China who has yet to own a Bible. If you would like to make a financial contribution towards making Bibles available to them, please contact the Bible Society in your country and designate your gift to ‘UBS China Partnership — Bibles for China’s Millions’.
Photo and story by Pamela Choo
United Bible Societies, China Partnership